Experience Fall on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

The Northwest Kansas prairie is beautiful in the fall and there is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the changing season than by touring the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway of Trego County.

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The Smoky Valley Byway is a sixty-mile route over gently rolling hills that takes you past stunning natural settings and historic landmarks, like the Emanuel Lutheran Church on South Hwy. 147, which is made of locally quarried limestone.

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As is the Wilcox country schoolhouse on South Hwy. 283 that is currently under restoration.

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Cedar Bluff State Park is a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy outdoor activities. Fishing, boating, and hiking are all accessible at the park. Along with many great spots on the reservoir, Pa’s Fishing Pond is a stocked pond created for children and the disabled to enjoy. If exploration is more your style give the hiking trails a try. The Agave Ridge Trail will take you deep into the park where you are sure to spot many kinds of wildlife. The trail leading down into Threshing Machine Canyon will take you right to the spot where pioneers traveling across the prairie carved their names and dates into the limestone cliff face.

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When you’re back on the Byway keep your eye out for the limestone posts marking the old route of the Butterfield Overland Despatch. These posts were added in 1960 to mark the historic trail that adventurers followed on stagecoaches from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado in 1865. The limestone blends in with the surrounding grasses in the fall, but the easiest marker to locate is found on Hwy. 147 south of the turn to the state park office on west side of highway below Cedar Bluff’s dam.

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As you cruise on down the road you’ll notice the stark white limestone cliffs that reveal our prairie’s prehistoric life as the floor of a great inland seabed. Professional and amateur paleontologist regularly uncover fossils in the exposed cliffs, including animals dating as far back as the Cretaceous period.


Don’t forget to look for the many species of wildlife that fill our Great Plains as you’re driving. Trego County is known for its great deer and pheasant hunting. (Hunters—mark your calendar for the start of the 2017 Pheasant Season next month on November 11th.)


One of the most beautiful things to see on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway are the amazing sunrises and sunsets that paint our skies every day. Experience an unparalleled connection with nature and “share our sky of wonder” with us.

This fall plan a drive along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway and experience the history and natural beauty of Trego County.


Shiloh Vineyards Welcomes Wine Lovers To Their Fall Open House


The 2017 grape harvest at Shiloh Vineyard and Winery is complete and another great year of wine making has begun! Treva and Kirk Johnston are ready to celebrate with an open house they are hosting at the vineyard and everyone is invited!

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On Saturday, October 7th from 4 – 10pm, Shiloh Vineyard will be thanking all the volunteers who helped bring in the harvest in a record two days, as well as the vineyard’s many supporters and customers that have enjoyed their wines year-after-year. Come enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Johnston family farm and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the Northwest Kansas prairie.


Weaver’s BBQ from Ransom will be serving his delicious treats from 5 – 7:30pm and the Hill City band Balance will be providing background music, jazz and bluegrass, from 6 -9pm. And, don’t forget the world-famous Kansas sunset, that will offer its own majestic show!

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There are outbuildings scattered around the property to explore and socialize in as you taste the fourteen varieties of wine produced at Shiloh Vineyards.

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Give them all a try in the tasting room that was hand-built by Kirk Johnston’s grandfather and the 100-year-old barn that is now used as an event space for weddings, family reunions and other gatherings.

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This year, as an extra bonus Shiloh Vineyard is offering a discount on their wines and giveaways throughout the evening of the open house.


Plan your Saturday evening, October 7th from 4 – 10pm in the peaceful surroundings of Trego County and Shiloh Vineyard and Winery!




History 101: Education in A Country School at the Trego County Historical Museum

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The school bells are ringing once more in Trego County!

Establishing an education system was one of the first goals of our county’s early settlers. Little one-room schoolhouses, with a teacher and all the materials needed to teach “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic,” were provided by citizens with the expectation that graduates of the schools would become leaders in the communities speckled across the county.

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The Trego County Historical Society offers a glimpse into those early school days at their Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse, an original country schoolhouse located on the grounds of the museum. It was moved to WaKeeney in May 1997 from its original location in the northwest part of the county.

Inside the school you’ll find desks, maps, and symbols marking it as an institution of free public education.  On a dais in front of the chalkboard a teacher would lead two rows of students sitting at wooden desks.

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Of course, education has changed a lot since the 1880s. One-room schools are a thing of the past and many of the academic tools found in the museum’s collection may not be recognizable to today’s students.

The education collection at the Trego County Historical Museum is home to a large archive of schoolbooks, teaching instruments and historical records from our local schools. They offer visitors a lesson in just how important providing quality education in a remote country setting was to early prairie settlers.

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The museum will occasionally host special lectures given by the last of the teachers and students to attend our county’s country schools, and you’ll often find teachers leading their students on visits to the museum to find out more about what life was like for yesterday’s young pupils. It’s a meaningful lesson and a fun trip back in time, too!

Welcome your students back to school with a trip to the Trego County Historical Museum, where they can experience the early days of the American education system on the High Plains of Trego County!

The Trego County Historical Society (785) 743-2964) is located at 128 North 13th Street, in WaKeeney (Exit 128 off-I-70, North 1 ½ miles on Hwy. 283).  Check their website for more information.


Celebrating the Resourceful Spirit of Trego County Citizens

During Trego County’s earliest days a person was required to possess a wide array of skills. Our citizens made their own products for their homes, businesses, and farms and fixed them when they broke down. These resourceful skills aren’t quite as necessary in today’s world, but there are a few craftsmen and women who continue to practice them as a way to a get hands-on experience with the past.

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The Trego County Historical Society will be showcasing these important crafts during their Trego County Heritage Day event on Saturday, August 18th from 1-4pm. Experts from across Northwest Kansas will be demonstrating and exhibiting the skills and techniques required by our ancestors in a “come and go” event that is open to all. You can expect to see—

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Rope Making

Just as it is today, a good strong rope is an important and necessary piece of equipment for all types of jobs. Eric and Angela Wilds and their family will demonstrate how to weave a rope that could withstand the rigors of a busy farm.

Dowsing or Water Witching

Nothing was more important to Trego County residents than finding water on their land, and they turned to dowsing or “water witching” as a way to find just the right spot to dig their well. Dowsing expert Ron Blaesi will explain what it takes to learn this invaluable skill.

Wheat Grinding

Of course, our Trego County ancestors were experts in the production and processing of wheat! Lois Keller will provide a demonstration and information on one of the oldest technologies in world history, and one that is the basis for Trego County’s economy today.

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Eilleen Bellairs & Mildred Garner will bring their collection of tatting; a hand-woven, decorative skill that produces beautiful lace-like creations. Tatting was used to decorate clothing and objects in the home, such as pillowcases, and provided a touch of refinement to a family’s life. 

Wool Spinning

Manufacturing fabric from wool was essential for people living in a remote county. Amanda Flax will be on hand to demonstrate wool spinning, a craft typically performed by the women of the family.

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Soap Making

Gwen Urban will be demonstrating the indispensible craft of soap making. It was typical for settlers to produce their own soap for cleaning everything inside and outside the home.

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Purington Fossils

This year, even the prehistoric tale of Trego County will be explored. Glenn Rockers of PaleoSearch, Inc. will be joining us to showcase the unique fossils found across the Trego County prairie, once part of the Western Interior Seaway 145 million years ago.

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Descendants of Capt. Edgar P. Trego standing under his image in the Trego County Historical Society’s new mural.

The New Mural

Don’t forget to stop at the recently completed mural in the museum’s new addition. It depicts Trego County at the time of it’s founding, with a herd of buffalo, a farmstead, a train and a wagon train crossing the vast Northwest Kansas prairie. Looking down upon all this activity are the founders of Trego County; Reverend Robert Collyer, James Keeney, and Albert Warren. They are surrounding an image of Captain Edgar P. Trego, the man for whom our county was named.

Please join us in WaKeeney on Saturday, August 19th from 1-4pm for Trego County Heritage Day! It’s a great event for all generations of the family and a perfect time to share those important family stories with the next generation. Look for the special homemade ice cream demonstration outside at the South end of the museum for a special treat.

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Note: The Antique Roadshow appraisal booth and the leatherwork and music have been cancelled. Watch for other updates on the Trego County Historical Society’s Facebook page.

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Sit Down to a Satisfying Meal in One of WaKeeney’s Many Restaurants

When the stomach starts to growl and you’re looking for a satisfying meal, take the shortest route to WaKeeney, Kansas, where you’ll enjoy a tasty dinner at any of our ten fine restaurants!

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The Brazen Bull

WaKeeney’s newest restaurant is the The Brazen Bull, a family owned restaurant with a bold take on America’s greatest plated meals. Everyone will find something to love on a menu filled with delicious steaks, burgers, sandwiches and salads choices. They’re open for lunch and dinner, so stop in and check out their new décor. (717 S 2nd St./ph. 785-743-2653)

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Dairy Queen

Looking for a cool and creamy afternoon snack? WaKeeney’s Dairy Queen can mix up your favorite soft serve treat in a jiffy. Along with their wide array of sweet treats, our DQ also offers an entrée menu with salads, wraps, sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. Pair your meal with a shake, malt, or their world-famous Blizzard and you’ll leave with a satisfied smile on your face every time you visit. (521 Barclay Avenue/ph. 785-743-2160)

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Hometown Bakery

Head to Hometown Bakery for fresh baked goods and a friendly smile, too! Their bakers craft everything from a scrumptious pies, cookies, and even celebratory cakes! Get there early to enjoy a donut and fresh brewed coffee while you check your email on their free WiFi. (215 N Main St. /ph. 785-743-6496)

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Jake & Chet’s Cafe/Sundowner Lounge

Fresh ingredients, plus years of culinary experience equals a satisfied diner at Jake and Chet’s Cafe and the Sundowner Lounge. From breakfast to dinner, soup to nuts; chefs Jake and Chet cook the meals they love most. Enjoy a rib eye cooked to order, southern fried catfish, or an all-American burger, and then follow it up with a slice of pie a la mode. (233 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2211)

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As America’s most iconic roadside restaurant, everyone is familiar with the great menu offered at a McDonald’s. The WaKeeney McDonald’s drive thru window makes it a quick stop, or you can get out and stretch your legs while you order inside in their air-conditioned dining room. (745 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2911)

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Mike’s Place

Downtown WaKeeney’s hotspot is Mike’s Place, a fun pub where people like to kick back with friends and enjoy a cold beer. They feature regular daily specials of local favorites and always have ice-cold beer on tap and ready for their guests. Stop in at their summer “Cruise Night” events to see vintage cars and chat with their drivers. (111 N 6th St./ph. 785-743-2641)

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Pizza Hut

A local favorite and WaKeeney’s favorite go-to for fast delivery is our local Pizza Hut. Whether you like original, pan or, my personal favorite, thin crust pizza, you’ll get one piled with savory meat, fresh veggies, spicy sauce and gooey melted cheese. Check out their new Wing Street menu for an order of tasty wings and your choice of sauces. (324 S 1st/ph. 785-743-2383 – Call ahead to find out when their buffet is open!)

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Feel like a meal that’s filled with all your favorite fresh ingredients but you don’t want to do all the work? At WaKeeney’s Subway you can pick the ingredients and let someone else build the perfect sandwich for you in a matter of minutes. Sandwiched inside a loaf of freshly baked bread, your meal will be an easy-to-eat, on-the-go satisfying feast that will get fed and back on the road in no time at all. (718 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-5248)

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Tropical Mexican Restaurant

Take a trip south of the border at Tropical Mexican Restaurant! It doesn’t have to be Cinco de Mayo to enjoy the great taste of authentic Mexican food. You’ll find all your favorites on Tropical’s menu, like the chicken fajitas or burritos, and don’t miss out on a fruity cocktail or Corona. You’ll feel like you’re basking in the sun at a beachside resort when you sit down to a meal at Tropical Mexican Restaurant! (428 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2219)

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Western Kansas Saloon & Grill

Order up a slice of Trego County history with your meal when you dine at the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill. Housed in one of our county’s oldest buildings, the “Saloon’s” menu offers something for everyone. From steak, pasta, and burgers, to salad and sandwiches; you’ll find a delicious selection of entrees, appetizers, and desserts served up with a drink from their fully stocked bar inside an authentic western saloon atmosphere. And, don’t forget to check out the pioneer themed original art by local artist Madeline Musick decorating the walls. (121 N Main St./785-743-2050)

Plan a trip to WaKeeney soon to enjoy all these delicious meals served in the restaurants of Trego County!

The Trego County Fair is Back, and Better Than Ever!

The event of the summer has arrived in WaKeeney, as the Trego County Fair kicks off another week of friendly competition, exciting rides and fun, fun, fun! Here are just a few of the highlights of this year’s “fair week.” 

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Spirited Games & Competitions

So many games to bring out the competitive spirit in you! Sign up or show up to participate in these exciting games.

Wednesday, July 19

  • Ping Pong Ball Drop (Sponsored by Western Cooperative Electric & Midwest Energy Inc.
  • ATV Rodeo Competitions

Thursday, July 20

  • Force #1 Laser Tag (Sponsored by Trego County Fair Board)
  • Demolition Derby

Friday, July 21

  • Dunking Booth (sponsored by Trego Top Succeeders 4-H Club)
  • Force #1 Laser Tag (Sponsored by Trego County Fair Board)

Saturday, July 22

  • Poker Run Registration & Judging
  • Washer and Horseshoe Tournament (Sponsored by Trego Recreation Center)
  • Muddy Pig Brawl

Sunday, July 23

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Fun on the Midway (Wednesday, July 19 – Saturday, July 22)

The lights of Marriott Amusements Carnival will light up the Midway this year with all the rides that thrill and excite the crowds. Traditional rides and new ones will fill our fairgrounds, along with a hot new addition that will take you on a virtual rollercoaster ride from JNT Company out of Manhattan, KS and sponsored by WaKeeney Travel & Tourism. Arm bands are available from 6-10pm every night of the carnival.

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Throughout the week participants in the Open Class, 4-H and the FFA exhibitions will be putting their best work in front of expert judges. From garden produce to farm yield, livestock shows to baking and arts and crafts projects, spectators can learn more about what our industrious citizens have been working on all year long. Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions will go on to compete at the State Fair later in the year. Look for these livestock shows in our fairgrounds arenas:

  • Thursday, July 20 – Horse Show, Bucket Calf Show, Beef Show
  • Friday, July 21 – Swine Show, Meat Goats Show, Sheep Show, and Open Class Goat, Sheep, Swine & Bucket Calf Show
  • Sunday, July 23 – 4-H/FFA Livestock Auction

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Food, Drink, and Socializing

Come hungry and thirsty because all your favorite fair food returns! You’ll find delicious treats on the Midway and all across the Fairgrounds and, of course, the beer garden and Scout food stand will be ready to keep you filled and hydrated. Take a look at these other special treats that will be offered throughout the week.

  • Community BBQ (Wednesday at 5:30pm for the first 1,000 people, sponsored by Trego County Economic Development)
  • Free Ice Cream (Wednesday at 6:30pm, sponsored by Eagle Radio)
  • Root Beer Floats (Thursday at 6pm, sponsored by Trego County Farm Bureau Assn.)
  • Watermelon Feed (Thursday at 8pm, sponsored by Jake & Chet’s)

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Great Concerts

Get ready to dance and sing the night away in the Grandstands and on the free stage! We’ve got four nights of great live music to enjoy this year.

  • Wednesday, July 19 – Donovan Lee and Taylors Bayou will perform Southern rock and country on our Free Stage.
  • Thursday, July 20 – FlatSpin takes us back to the ‘80s on our Free Stage.
  • Friday, July 21 – Country artist and American Idol contestant Josh Gracin will take to the Grandstand stage.
  • Saturday, July 22 – Local favorites Jimmy Dee & the Fabulous Destinations returns to our Free Stage to play the best in ‘50s and ‘60s music.

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The Grand Parade

Join us on the streets of Downtown WaKeeney on Saturday, July 22nd at 10am for the Grand Parade to see the horses, floats, tractors and people of Trego County march through the streets on their way to the last day of fair week. Many of the alumni from TCHS will be returning to WaKeeney to celebrate at the all-class reunion and stores will be open up and down Main Street.

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Later in the day things get dirty at the Muddy Pig Brawl at 5pm, where competitors chase down a slippery pig in ankle-deep mud. TCHS alumni teams will be showing their team spirit during this fun event.

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Come out to the Trego County Fair and “Let the Good Times Grow!”


Where to Celebrate Independence Day in Trego County

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The Fourth of July holiday is here and it’s time to light up the night! Trego County is getting into the patriotic spirit early with two firework displays on Saturday, July 1st.

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Cedar Bluff State Park

Head to Cedar Bluff State Park for day of fun in the sun and night of beautiful fireworks. Come for the day, or bring your tent or RV to enjoy the many fun activities to found in a natural prairie setting.

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Water ski, swim, hike, and fish throughout the day, then as the sun goes down set up a chair and watch the firework display high in the sky. The show starts at dark on the Northside (Bluffton) Park and it’s brought to you by the Cedar Bluff Lake Association. Vehicle permits will be required.

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WaKeeney Mini Speedway

For those who like a shot of adrenaline on their holidays, head to the WaKeeney Mini Speedway!

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Roaring engines and intense competition will energize the crowds when the racers take to the oval dirt track. Racers are both experienced and novices and there are several classes of cars and ranges of ages of the drivers.

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The races begin at 5pm on Saturday, July 1st, with the fireworks display following afterwards. This will be the place to watch fireworks in the city of WaKeeney, and we’re expecting another great show this year.

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Celebrate the birth of this great nation with the people of Trego County and watch fireworks light up the sky at Cedar Bluff State Park and the WaKeeney Mini Speedway this Saturday, July 1st.

Happy Fourth of July!